Rebel Wilson gets big cash award in anti-defamation battle

Actress Rebel Wilson walks outside a courthouse in Australia's Victoria state, Sept. 13, 2017, after being awarded $3.66 million by a judge to "vindicate" her of defamation by Bauer Media magazines.

AP

MELBOURNE, Australia -- A judge awarded Rebel Wilson record damages of 4.56 million Australian dollars ($3.66 million) on Wednesday over magazine articles the articles the actress said cost her roles in Hollywood films.

A Supreme Court jury in Australia's Victoria state had decided in June the articles claiming she lied about her age, origins of her first name and her upbringing in Sydney were defamatory.

Justice John Dixon said a substantial award amount was required to "vindicate" Wilson after her reputation as an "actress of integrity was wrongly damaged."

Bauer Media, publisher of the Australian magazines Woman's Day, Australian Women's Weekly, NW and OK, said it was considering the judgment.

The 37-year-old Wilson, best known for the comedies "Pitch Perfect" and "Bridesmaids," was in London on Wednesday and her lawyers were unable to immediately talk to her about the decision.

Wilson said outside the court on Wednesday that she had won a, "a long and hard fight. I had to stand up to a bully; a huge media organization, Bauer Media Group, who maliciously took me down in May 2015 with a series of grubby and completely false articles."

"I really love my job as an actress and as an entertainer, and now I just look forward to rebuilding my career now that the record has been set straight," she said.

Earlier Wilson said on Twitter that the case "wasn't about the money."

"I'm looking forward to helping out some great Australian charities and supporting the Oz film industry with the damages I've received," she tweeted

Her lawyer Richard Leder said outside court the damages were about four times higher than the previous Australian record for a defamation case.

Her legal team would also apply for Bauer to pay all her legal costs, Leder said.

She had sought more than AU$7 million.

Bauer Media had branded that damage claim "extraordinarily large" and made on the "most tenuous of basis."

Bauer lawyer Georgina Schoff told the judge that Wilson had failed to prove the articles caused her financial losses.

Bauer failed to prove the articles published in 2015 were substantially true or that they were unlikely to harm her career.

The jury found Bauer had said Wilson lied about her age, claiming to be six years younger, and had falsely claimed to have been named Rebel at birth.

They also found Bauer had said Wilson lied about having a hallucination about winning an Academy Award while sick with malaria, about her parents being dog trainers, about being related to U.S. entertainment entrepreneur Walt Disney and about being raised in a "ghetto" area of Sydney.

Wilson blamed the articles for film contracts being terminated.